Thursday, February 14, 2008

Word of the day: Imputrescible

On the "other" blog I wrote, in part, about the joys of serendipity that the printed word has over digital. Such was the case the other day when I was searching for the definition of a word and stumbled across imputrescible.

adj. not liable to decomposition or putrefaction; incorruptible.
It's from the Latin putresc(ere), to grow rotten.

Example? The last thing one could characterize Roger Clemens' testimony before Congress this week was that it was imputrescible.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Warning: Crocodiles ahead


My favorite author is Mark Helprin ("A Solider of the Great War" etc.). He tells soaring stories with pristine, precise prose that works its way into every pore of your soul. What got me hooked years ago was the fact that Helprin's prose -- his fiction -- is relentlessly optimistic, and not cheesily so. His writing made me realize I could slink through life as a cynic, or I could pilot along optimistically. Indeed, even in the darkest moments, there is life if you choose to see it.
He's a conservative columnist, and he writes (too infrequently) for The Wall Street Journal. Today he penned a winner: "McCain and the Talk-Show Hosts," a piece that finally took to task the jabbering jackasses of the jaw-jockey circuit.
His last words were priceless as he described: the "relentlessly crocodilian Ann Coulter." Most of us would labor for a day or more coming up with that description. For Helprin, no doubt, it flowed effortlessly. Man, if I could write like that..........

Onward:

"5 a.m. in the morning." That's what a.m. is: the morning. It's bad enough to be awake at that hour, let alone emphasize the point redundantly. A.M.=Ante Meridiem, or before noon in Latin. (Without the periods, of course, it means amplitude modulation, a form of radio wave, which, coincidentally, carries many of the jabbering jackasses of the jaw-jockey circuit.)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Bad writing can be good


Yes, indeed, bad writing can be good. And entertaining. There used to be, yes once and perhaps still, a contest. A glorious contest. It celebrated the writing of Ernest Hemingway. His brevity. And style.
It was called the Bad Hemingway competition. Books were written about it. Articles too. Some very funny. Painfully so.
But as with writing in general, the competition seems to have dried up. Like a tomato in the hot Spanish sun. So too interest in the Big Man.
Maybe Papa got a bum rap.
Then again, maybe he should have read more Bernard Malamud.
The opening sentence from Malamud's book, "The Natural," which bore only a faint resemblance to the movie:

Roy Hobbs pawed at the glass before thinking to prick a match with his thumbnail and hold the spurting flame in his cupped palm close to the lower berth window, but by then he had figured it was a tunnel they were passing through and was no longer surprised at the bright sight of himself holding a yellow light over his head, peering back in.
As far as I know, there have never been any Bad Malamud contests.

 

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